Unregistered Christians targeted in Uzbekistan
February 19, 2010
(christiansunite.com) - Uzbek Christians from the Baptist Council of Churches -- a church that refuses to register with the state -- have faced arrests and physical abuse in recent weeks.
On January 18, Tohar Haydarov (28) was arrested in Syrdarya region on charges of producing or storing drugs -- charges local Christians insist are fabricated. At the police station, Tohar was reportedly pressured and threatened to renounce his faith. When he refused, police allegedly planted drugs on him. Officials later reported finding additional drugs at his apartment in a search that was not monitored by any witnesses until after a bag of narcotics was found.
Forensic tests on the drugs found on Tohar and in his apartment were conducted the same evening, raising suspicion on how precise forensic results were available so quickly. At a court date three days after his arrest, Tohar told believers that police had beaten him and forced him to sign papers. His face was swollen and he could barely walk. At last report, police were attempting to have Tohar charged under a different article of the Criminal Code which calls for a 10-20 year prison sentence.
On January 24, a group of believers gathered for fellowship at Sergei Brislavski's home in Almalyk City were rounded up by officers and brought to the police station. Sergei's home was then searched and Bibles, songbooks and CDs were confiscated. Three of the 19 believers were roughly treated by officers.
The next day, a doctor recorded in the forensic-medical examination certificates that they had bruises on their shoulders and around their necks. However, police deny assaulting the believers. Local Christians believe the police are preparing a criminal case against some of the members for repeated violations of the Religion Law. In April 2009, some of the same Christians, including Sergei's family, were fined 50 times the minimum monthly wage for "attracting believers of one confession to another".
Pray that the truth surrounding Tohar's case will be revealed. Pray that he will look to Christ during this time. Pray that the Christians in Almalyk will echo Peter's determination to obey God regardless of what man says (Acts 5:29). Pray that they will not face charges or fines. Pray that religious freedom will be respected in Uzbekistan.
You can find out more about the persecution believers face in Uzbekistan at www.persecution.net/uzbekistan.htm.